Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday 4 - Home

 This week the Tuesday 4 is all about our homes. Join me if you'd like.

The cats help our house feel like a home.

 1. What makes a house a home? For me, a home is a place where you feel safe, where you are comfortable, and where you can just be yourself. It is a place where you look forward to returning to when you are away. 

2. How do you keep your house neat, tidy, and clean? Do you find it difficult? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being neat, tidy, and clean, I would say that our house is about a 7. Sometimes it is worse, especially when we are under stress or working on a big project, and sometimes it is better, especially when we have invited people over. We try to maintain things as we go, but the whole house is rarely all clean and organized at the same time. As I have learned to get rid of clutter, the job of keeping things neat has gotten easier. Cleaning is not my favorite thing, but I try to do a little of it every day so nothing gets too far gone.

3. Are plants important in your home.. or collections.. or wall art?  Is there a theme you like to create?

The jar for this terrarium came from my
parents and the begonia was a volunteer.
Many things in our home have some
kind of personal connection like this.

If it weren't for the cats, plants would be more important in our house. However, the cats we have will chew anything we bring in from the plant world. That is the reason I started making terrariums - so I could have greenery indoors without the cats being able to get to it.

We don't have any big collections unless you count all of the rocks we have collected over time in the basement. Some day, we are going to curate them and Ward is going to make a display box for them. Some. day.

It used to be all the art we had had some kind of personal connection - painting of a favorite place, personal needlework, family photos, etc. But when we staged our last house to sell, I bought inexpensive paintings to go with the decor. You know, it's a lot easier to make something look good when you buy it to go into a specific place rather than trying to fit your odd pieces into the decor. So while we still have some personal things displayed, we are using our staging art, too. BTW, I'm using the word decor here loosely, and we have no themes.

4. What is a typical day/evening like in your home? A typical day at our house is rather mundane. Get up, do the morning stuff, feed the cats, clean the kitchen, etc. Then Ward starts work by going into the office and turning on his work computer. My work schedule varies from day to day. I can work either morning, afternoon, evening, or a combination. If I don't have to go to work immediately, I usually try to get some chores or errands done.  In the evening, after catching up on our days and eating dinner, we settle in for an hour or so of mindless TV or reading with cats on our laps. We like to watch calm, simple things to slow our minds down before bedtime. HGTV and comedy reruns are our favorites for this. We do more than this, but this is the basic structure that our various other activities and projects fit into.

Until next time...

Note: I cut and paste the questions for the Tuesday 4 into the post and Blogger gets confused by this. Thus the various spacing and font sizes. Sigh. However, I'm still thankful for the free blogging service Google provides.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Very Hungry Caterpillars

 We had a volunteer sunflower in front of our house and one day it looked like this.

You can see where a deer tore off part of a leaf but otherwise it was big and healthy.

A couple of days later, we turned around and found a woolly bear enjoying the rest of the leaf that the deer had left behind.

In fact, the plant was covered with very hungry caterpillars.

Ants wanted to get in on some of the action, 

 And even a stink bug joined the party.

And now our big, healthy sunflower looks like this with just a few of the clean-up crew left.

This whole process fascinated me. One because you could actually watch the caterpillars chomping away and two because the only time I had seen a woolly bear was on the ground somewhere waiting for winter, like this one.

Here's one I found near our vegetable garden. 

I learned something from this invasion--not all woolly bears are created equal. I only knew about the traditional orange and black ones that are part of the lore that they can predict the weather. Those turn into Isabella tiger moths in the spring. However, the ones that were eating our sunflower were more likely yellow woolly bears that turn into the Virginia tiger moth. The caterpillars for this moth can be different colors ranging from white to orange.

Aren't you glad I cleared that up for you?

In case you're interested in the woolly bears' ability to predict the weather, below is a previous post that discusses that.

Until next time...


Winter Weather and Woolly Bears

Or How Not to Predict the Weather

As we are now into fall, many conversations involve talk about what kind of winter we might have. Everyone has a theory based on various things--satellite data to the Farmers' Almanac, caterpillars to pig spleens, and aching joints to hair thickness. 

The good old standby of the Farmers' Almanac predicts a colder winter with more snowfall than normal for North America this year. And how accurate is the Farmers Almanac? Well, it depends on who you talk to. The people who sell the book, say their predictions have been 80% accurate. Otherwise, you can take any year or place and make the predictions work or not. Accuracy is in the eye of the beholder. I'd like to believe that they are going to be wrong this winter.

How about some of the other indicators? The woolly bear is another favored one. The woolly bear is a fuzzy black and brown caterpillar of the Isabella tiger moth. They are seen a lot during the fall as they move around looking for a protected place to spend the winter. It seems like forever that I've heard people talk about the woolly bear and its predictions about winter weather. I was never sure how that worked, but I assumed they looked at their fuzzy coat and if it were heavier than normal, that meant a harsher winter. Turns out, I was wrong.

The predictions are made based on the ratio of black to brown stripes on the worm. Most woolly bears have a black stripe on each end with a brown section in the middle. If the brown area is bigger than the black areas, then it is supposed to be a milder winter. And conversely, if the brown area is smaller than the black areas, it is supposed to be a harsher winter. And how accurate is this predictor? Well, it depends on who you talk to. Some say it can't miss and others say that it is more accurate in telling if last winter was mild or harsh.

Dr. D. H. Curran, a curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, actually studied the woolly bear and its weather-predicting abilities starting in 1946. For eight years he counted whether each of the 13 segments of a woolly bear was black or brown. He averaged his counts and then predicted the weather for the upcoming winter based on the black/brown ratios. His results were 80% accurate. However, he discounted his studies saying that he knew his sample size was not very large. Other experiments have had varying outcomes, so once again accuracy is in the eye of the beholder.

But not to be deterred by previous results, I set out to see what our local woolly bears were going to tell me about the upcoming winter. However, I ran into a few problems. The first one was even though these little worms are supposed to be everywhere, I only found six of them over the course of several days. Of these, two were black and brown striped, and four of them were entirely black. That was the next problem. What was I supposed to do with the black ones? No one talked about those in the studies I read. If I went strictly on the black/brown ratio, we are in for a horrible winter. So, I decided to leave the black ones out of the study and use only two data points. Those two had healthy brown stripes, so I predict that we are going to have a mild winter. Now, how's that for making the numbers say just what you want?

So what kind of weather are we in for this winter? I'm not sure. I think I may just have to stick my hand out the window when the time comes to know for sure.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Tuesday 4- The Wild West

Time for the Tuesday 4. This week is about the Wild West. Join me if you'd like. 

Before we get to the main questions, I have an aside story.  I'm not sure how it came up, but I asked one of the young shelvers at work if she knew what a Western was. And she said, "In what context?" Of course, all of the older people immediately thought of the entertainment that was so popular years ago. I was surprised by her answer and decided to go home and ask my kids if they knew what a Western was. I was sure they would know because they read a lot and the reruns were all over TV. However, their response was identical, "In what context?"  Westerns are supposedly making a comeback, so I wonder if I would get the same response now, a couple of years later?

1. Do you have a favorite TV western you enjoyed? Tell us about it.

I definitely grew up when Westerns were a big thing. However, I didn't watch many at the time because we could only get one TV channel-CBS. The only one I saw was Gunsmoke which we watched every Monday night as a family. BTW, It was during that show that I realized that the big action scenes always occurred 10 minutes before the end of a show. I have seen many other Westerns since then in reruns as well as listened to reruns of Gunsmoke when it was a radio show. 

2. Lots of western movies... which was one you enjoyed?

Theo ready for the Rodeo.

 The only one I can think of was True Grit from 1969. I haven't watched it since then, but I do remember thinking that Glen Campbell was not a very good actor. However, I did enjoy the movie.

3. John Wayne was in many westerns and had many fans. What actor is your favorite? 

Uncle Billy loves John Wayne and his movies and will watch one every time he sees one on TV. Me, I'm not sure I have a favorite unless you count Chuck Connors because he reminds me of my father.

4. You are going to have to move to a western state that has cowboys! Which state will you choose and why?

That's a hard question. Without considering political climate, tax structure, etc., I would say Utah because besides the beautiful scenery, it is not as hot and dry as the southwest. I find after a few days in an arid area, my eyes crave green. However, I have really enjoyed every state that I have visited in the west.

I lived in Texas for 10 years where there are still many present day cowboys. Houston, where we lived, hosted a huge two week rodeo every year. Besides big rodeo events and concerts, people all over the state did a "trail ride" into town for it. The park where they met was close to our house and I would take the kids to watch the horses and wagons roll in (as well as their campers and tailors). The cowboys and cowgirls would be dressed in their finest western wear and the ladies all had the famous "big Texan hair". It was a very fun time.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Happy Birthday, Kitties!

Annie and Leo

Today our cats, Leo and Annie, turn 18 years old. They are definitely showing their age, but they are still showing their spunk and insistence on being the center of everyone's world, as well.

We already had two cats when we got Annie and Leo and were not planning to get any more. But you know what they say about best laid plans. Miss Landers had gotten us a gift certificate for Petsmart that we went to use one afternoon. As chance would have it, it was cat adoption day. While I enjoyed seeing the cats, I was not tempted to get any more. I thought we were doing our part with the two we already had.  I wasn't tempted, but Ward was. He started campaigning that we needed some kittens. All of my red flags went up--what about the extra litter boxes, torn furniture, vet bills, etc. Those didn't seem to phase him. I agreed to go back and look at two kittens we had seen - a brother and sister that they wanted to adopt together. 

The kittens were shy with one (Annie) cautiously venturing out of their carrier to be petted while the other (Leo) hid inside. We went about our shopping, but went back before we left the store and said that we might be interested in adopting the pair. However, we needed time to think about it. Then we went home to talk to Wally and Leo.

They thought getting two more cats was the greatest idea in the world. I laid forth all of the arguments as to why we should not get the kittens, but they had a counter argument for every one of them. So then I started to think seriously about the idea. I tended to be the one in the family who put a damper on many thing by looking at the practical/negative side of things. I told myself that maybe for once, I could do something without thinking through all of the possibilities. I gave the adoption group a call the next day and said we were interested. 

The group was very happy we called back. They had  others interested in the kittens but liked us because they knew we weren't doing it on impulse. The group's goal was to get a lifelong placement for the cats in a good home. Not one that would have them for a period of time and then get rid of them. We had to have an extensive interview, fill out a lot of paperwork, make promises for their care, and pay for a spay and neuter. All good practices, but there was one question in particular that I thought was very smart. They said that in all likelihood, that our kids would be out of the house long before the cats. Would Ward and I be okay with having four cats with only two of us to care for them? We said we would.

And two days later, we picked up the kittens in the parking lot of Petsmart and took them home to spend the next couple of weeks anchored in a bedroom as we introduced them to are existing cats, Lucky and Lucy. But that's a story for another day.

So was it a good decision to have four cats? Yes. Were there problems with this many? Yes. But the joy, comfort, laughter, and companionship they have provided have far outweighed the difficulties. 

Happy Birthday, Annie and Leo! We're so glad that you are part of our family.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Tuesday 4 - Me

 It's time for Tuesday 4. This week is about describing yourself. Join me if you'd like.

Me at 5 years old.

1. How are you unique or different from your friends or family? How typical are you?

This is a hard question. Maybe I should ask an outside observer to get a better perspective, but I can't find anyone. So I give it a go on my own.

I feel like I am very similar to my sisters - detail oriented, good at thinking through plans, like simple things. I am different than my husband's family where most things are examined from an engineering/physics perspective. I, too, am science oriented, but physics is my least favorite and hardest science discipline for me. 

I am different from some of my friends in that I tend to try to find the positive in most situations. I can be annoying in that way sometimes so I've been told. But that is not to say that I don't enjoy a good complaining session at work as much as the next person.

2.  How do you spend your spare time? books, hobbies, visiting, tv etc. I like being outside and observing nature, so I often work in the yard. Except when it's really hot. Then I melt. :) I also read, watch TV, play computer games, and pet cats to relax. In the past, I did knitting and cross-stitching.

3. What was high school like for you? Overall, high school was pretty good for me. When I was a freshman, I tried out for everything I could--student council, cheerleader, class play, etc. And I lost every single one of them. I was not the prettiest, curviest, or richest which were all things that were of great value to 14 year olds. But I came back the next year and tried again and had a few successes. By the time I was a senior, I was student body president, a varsity cheerleader, and valedictorian. When I look back, I'm not sure where I got the courage to overcome all of the rejections.

4. This question has multiple parts:

a. Handbag: designer style or any will do?  My bag has to be not too big and have a good carrying strap. Designer or not, I like to get a well made one and carry it for years until I get embarrassed about how worn it looks.

b. Pajamas or night gown? Pajamas. I've never understood nightgowns in that they always seem to end up in an uncomfortable ball around my waist when I have worn them.

c. Shoes: sturdy or pretty ? Definitely sturdy. I have various issues with my feet, so when I find a pair of shoes that are comfortable for me, I tend to wear them all the time. Until, much like the purse, I get embarrassed about how worn they look.

d.home decor: classic, modern, farm house style, traditional? I don't know what our style is. I'm not sure we have one. But in general, we lean more to the traditional and less to the modern. And uncluttered. That's not to say that we always achieve that, but I generally don't like a cluttered space. Which is one reason my desk is bothering me right now. But not enough to do anything about it. Same goes for my nightstand. :)

e. Movies: feel good, drama, romance, action? We watch very few movies, but I enjoy a feel good comedy more than an intense action movie.